August 15, 2023
Animal Aid, a UK-based animal rights organisation, has released data showing that more than 1,000 horses from the racing industry were slaughtered for their meat in England and Ireland in 2022.
The data, obtained through Freedom of Information requests to the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine in Ireland, revealed that 1,161 horses who held passports from Weatherbys, the official passport issuer of the racing industry, were killed at abattoirs last year.
The group said that this figure represents 55% of the total number of horses slaughtered in both countries, which was 2,096. It also said that 256 horses with Weatherbys passports were aged three or younger when they were sent for slaughter in Ireland.
Animal Aid claimed that the racing industry is still mass-producing foals and disposing of surplus horses by sending them to the abattoir, despite the public outcry following the BBC Panorama programme The Dark Side of Horse Racing in July 2021.
The programme featured Animal Aid’s undercover footage of horses, including those rejected by the racing industry, being slaughtered. It also showed that some racehorses who had had prestigious careers, such as Vyta Du Roc who had won more than £175,000, were slaughtered for their meat.
The group’s campaign manager, Dene Stansall, said: “I think we need to be really, really clear that, contrary to the racing industry’s spin, slaughter is categorically not ‘euthanasia’. If you have an animal euthanised, you will pay a vet to put them to sleep either at your home or at a veterinary surgery. With slaughter, however, the owner is transporting the animal to an abattoir, where they will receive money for that animal’s meat – that is to say, you are squeezing every last ounce of value out of that animal, despite the horror they will certainly face at the abattoir.”
He added: “What the figures show is that nothing has really changed since our 2021 footage was released on BBC One. The racing industry is still mass-producing foals, and ‘dealing’ with the problem of surplus horses by sending them to the abattoir. And, we don’t even know how many of them end up at the knacker’s yard rather than the official abattoir. It’s just sickening to think of these beautiful animals’ lives being snuffed out because they are failing to make enough money for a greedy industry.”